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Greenwich Village Water Main Break Floods Streets, Subways and Basements

By  Trevor Kapp Danielle Tcholakian and Radhika Marya | January 15, 2014 8:30am | Updated on January 15, 2014 5:10pm

 A water main break deluged part of Greenwich Village with water.
Greenwich Village Water Main Break
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GREENWICH VILLAGE — A nearly 140-year-old water main broke at 13th Street and Fifth Avenue early Wednesday, sending water spewing into the streets and snarling subway service across the area, according to officials.

The 36-inch pipe broke about 12:10 a.m. Water quickly flooded several nearby subway lines and the flow wasn't brought under control until about 5:30 a.m., fire and transit officials said.

Fifth Avenue was expected to remain closed to traffic between 12th and 14th streets until all repairs were completed, Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said late Wednesday afternoon. Repairs were expected to take several days.

"The crews and the contractors are still there, and they're still trying to do it as quickly as possible, so they can restore the water for everyone...affected," said Padilla, adding that about 75 residents and 10 commercial properties were without water.

The break initially caused massive disruptions along the B, C, D, E, F, M and Q lines, but as of 10:40 a.m., service had resumed with residual delays, the MTA said.

The surging water created a hole about 10 feet in diameter at 13th Street and Fifth Avenue, shutting down Fifth Avenue between Ninth and 14th streets. A Con Edison worker on the scene said the hole would have to be enlarged so that workers could make repairs. At one point, the worker said, there was a cab in the hole, but the driver wasn't hurt.

Water was shut off for buildings on both sides of Fifth Avenue between 12th and 13th streets, Con Edison said.

Businesses in the area, such as Hu Kitchen and carpet store Kermanshah, were closed due to the break.

On its website, The New School said select buildings would be closed, including 72 Fifth Ave., the University Center at 63 Fifth Ave., 66 Fifth Ave. and 2 W. 13 St.

Additional buildings, including two parking garages on 13th Street, reported flooding.

"The basement is completely flooded from floor to ceiling," said Stefan Ljekocevic, superintendent at 42 W. 13th St. "It's bad — there's a lot of damage. We have the boiler, and office, everything down there."

He said the flooding started as soon as the main broke. The building only had cold water as of Wednesday afternoon.

The water main, which is made of cast iron, was installed in 1877, the DEP said.

The cause of the break remained under investigation Wednesday. The DEP planned to look into whether the recent swing in temperatures had an effect.

“This is an old main. We’d be naive to think that wasn’t a major factor,” said Jim Roberts, DEP deputy commissioner, according to Time Warner Cable News NY1.

"The freeze, thaw, the real cold, then the warming up doesn’t help any of the water-supply systems."

With reporting by Gustavo Solis